Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wedding Survival Tips

So here are the tips for surviving your younger sibling's wedding in the frum community that I promised in my last post:

1. Make sure you look fabulous. It may seem shallow, but it makes a difference when you know you look incredible. The only worst thing than being pitied for being single at your younger sibling's wedding for being single is being pitied for being single and looking bad. Let people see that you're doing fine single.

Put these on your checklist, single ladies: Great dress; hot shoes (heels, a MUST); elegant hairdo; beautiful make-up.

2. Alcohol. I'm not a drinker, and I didn't even drink all that much at my little brother's wedding, but the few drinks that I had made me mellow enough to enjoy the party, and oblivious enough to miss most of the patronizing smiles.

Needless to say, this is only for those of you over 21 (or 18 in Europe and Israel). And I say "needless to say," because if you're younger than 21 and your younger siblings are getting married, it's going to take more than booze to set things straight in your situation.

3. Forget about who's looking, and just do whatever it takes to have a good time. Those old ladies frowning at your style of dancing? They don't exist. The shadchanim (matchmakers) peering over their glasses at your frequent trips to the bar? They don't matter.

Really. They don't.

4. If you can have some of your own friends there, it helps. If, however, your younger sibling drags you across the country for their wedding, (as mine did,) far away from your closest pals who understand what you're going through, add a few more drinks to your evening and it won't matter who's there for have fun with you. You'll manage fine alone.

5. Enjoy the food. If you happen to be on a diet, forget about it for the evening. Chocolate, especially, has amazing healing powers.

Any other tips? Let me know!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wedding Woes for Singles

It's traditional in the frum world for older siblings to get married before their younger ones. Sometimes, though, the older siblings pass their 21st year without getting married (a horrible tragedy,) and the younger siblings decide to get married before them.

When this happens, it's usually pretty difficult for the older siblings. Having just experienced it myself, (my baby brother just got married - now you know why I've been AWOL for a good while,) I've gained a little insight into this difficulty.

My brother informed me that he was getting engaged by inching his way into my room and saying, "Would you be excited if I got engaged?"

My immediate response was, "Uh... No!" but seeing his face fall, I quickly added, "But I want you to be happy, so if you're happy, I'll be happy." And that was that.

I smiled and laughed with him and his fiance when they came back from his proposal but soon afterwards starting to feel the hurt that I've heard of so often when people talk about their younger siblings getting married.

I needed to do a little soul-searching to figure out why it was so difficult for me to see my younger brother get married. What I discovered was - and I'm not proud to say this - jealousy. Not of getting married, but of the attention that the community gives to brides and grooms. A wedding is usually the most extravagant celebration in a frum person's life. From the *takes a deep breath* engagement party\ies to the bridal showers, to the groom's Sabbath celebration, to the bride's Sabbath celebration, to the wedding, to the seven days of partying after the wedding *let's out breath* it's a party-palooza with all the focus on the bride and groom.

As for those of us who haven't been married, we have to watch as our contemporaries get married, then our younger friends, then the younger kids who we barely know because they're so much younger, and we have to watch time and time again as they are celebrated just for tying the knot. Meanwhile, we go to these celebrations and, at best, get blessings of, "G-d willing by you very soon!" and at worst get stared and whispered at.

We could get college degrees, go to graduate school, become doctors and lawyers and accomplished musicians, but no matter what we do, as long as we remain single in the frum community, we won't ever get a chance for the spotlight.

Coming up next: Advice for how to survive your younger sibling's wedding in the frum world.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Boys Get Mountains, Girls Get Boys

"The pursuit of love gets mixed up with the pursuit of life [...] The boys are expected to do. Accomplish something. Seek adventure. Sure, they study for careers now, but what are girls still expected to seek? Boys. Boys get mountains, girls get boys."

I thought that it was only in the frum world that girls' only path of success was through her "man." Apparently not.

"Like it or not, it happens all the time. [...] A man's identity is complete through action, a woman's when she has a man."

I used to joke that I would marry a rabbi and *POOF* instantly get smicha (Rabbinical ordination) by become a Rebbitzen.

I used to talk about going to graduate school without actually making any plans to because I knew might have a husband and family by the time I reached grad school, in which case I probably wouldn't do it.

Frum girls are taught that their success and happiness will be attained through their husband's success. That they will be fulfilled by caring for their husband and children.

I think that that's a dangerous mindset to head into the frum dating scene with. I think that it's important for girls in the frum world to know that:

"Love can come when you're already who you are, when you are filled with you. Not when you look to someone else to fill the empty space."
(Ignore the cover. It's a National Book Award finalist and a brilliant book.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Blind Dating

Blind dating is pretty much the only sort of dating that goes on in the frum world. We call the system of matchmaking, "Shidduchim". The process consists of being set up on dates, whether through friends, family, or the good old shadchan (matchmaker) in order to find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. You've never met or talked to him (or her, as the case may be) before, making them blind dates, yet you're supposed to figure out within a couple of weeks whether you want to marry them and bear their children.

I haven't talked much about my dating experiences on this blog, mostly because there's another blog out there, http://badforshidduchim.wordpress.com/, who seems to say everything that needs to be said, but since it's a pretty prominent part of my life, I figure it's time for me to put my own two cents in.

For now, all I'm going to say is that there are times when you almost wish you were blind. You're supposed to be deep and spiritual and not care about their looks, but when you go on a date and the guy's hair is greasy, or he's wearing ridiculous clothing, or he's just plain, erm, not very good looking, what are you supposed to do? Tell the shadchan (matchmaker), "Well, I couldn't look at him during the entire date but I'll go out with him again because I don't want to judge someone too quickly based on their physical appearance"?

That happens to be precisely what is expected of us ladies. When I came home from a date recently and told my family that the guy I'd gone out with wasn't very good looking, to put it kindly, I got every response from, "Well, you need to give it time," to, "You're being so mean! How could you judge a person by their looks?"

Is it really so shallow to want to be attracted to the man you mean to marry?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Secret Handshake

There's a secret to handshaking in the frum world. An unspoken arrangement in which handshaking is (no pun intended) handled. To outsiders looking in it probably looks like we just don't bother with handshaking at all, but there's method to our madness.

It starts with the Halachic prohibition forbidding physical contact between members of the opposite sex. This prevents handshaking between the sexes in the frum community. Then once we're all accustomed to the "no handshaking with men\women," rule, we often just forego handshaking altogether.

It's all pretty simple until you take it out of the frum world where no one else is aware of this "secret" to handshaking. When a frum person is out in the secular world, they're faced with the decision of how to avoid handshaking with member of the opposite sex without appearing rude or insulting.

Most guys are fine when I tell them that I don't shake hands with men. I've only had a few instances where people have taken offense to my "no handshake" deal. I've heard of people getting highly insulted and I've never understood it. So I don't shake your hand - what's the big deal?

My sister was scolded by an employee in a store she was patronizing for not shaking hands with him. Needless to say, she hasn't gone back to that store.

I had a black guy reply, "I'm a person too, you know," when I excused myself from shaking his hand. But when I explained to him that it was for religious reasons, he seemed to feel better about it.

It occurs to me that some people might find my, "Sorry, I don't shake hands with men," thing sexist. What do you think?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Latest Obamaism

"AP - President Barack Obama plans to propose the first-ever national emission limits for cars and trucks as well as average mileage requirements of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 — all costing consumers an extra $1,300 per vehicle."

Genius. Let's charge people more money for cars. That'll save the auto industry. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Quote Time

"Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so."

-Ronald Reagan

There's so much that I feel like saying about the Obama administration right now. About all the ridiculous moves they've been making, including flying an airplane through Manhattan's restricted airspace, scaring the wits out of people whose last memory of such an event was on 9/11, but I'm not going to waste my energy on whining.

This quote from Reagan, however, seems to sum my feelings up very nicely. I'd like to say that the Obama administration is just plain stupid, because sometimes when I read or hear the news these days that's exactly what I think, but doing so would show my own ignorance. Obama is not stupid, and neither are the people in his administration. But what they do know and the conclusions that they come to based on that knowledge are looking like supremely bad moves to me.

Stop crying about water boarding terrorists. Think before you send a plane that looks just like (and is used as a secondary) Air Force One into Manhattan airspace.
Stop giving money away like it grows on trees.

Anyone have any other "dumb moves" that they'd like to add to the list?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Human Trafficking

Speaking of slavery, (as I did in my last post,) I have a comment\retraction that I'd like to make about my previous post, "Slavery Today." 

In that post I wrote about celebrities trying to build awareness of modern-day slavery, and I demonstrated my ignorance by saying, (ironically - or, perhaps egotistically,) "Call me ignorant but, well, I'm really not - and still I'm not sure what they're referring to."

I guessed, in that post, that the celebrities were referring to slavery in Sudan or Rwanda, and didn't take much notice of the comment from aztecqueen2000 that, "In the United States, human beings are the third most trafficked commodity behind drugs and weapons. They are used for domestic service, sweatshop labor and prositution." 

I should have taken notice, because that's a seriously frightening statistic, but it was just words to me... Until I got a view of it for myself. So to speak. It was while babysitting last week, with the child asleep, that I was doing what babysitters tend to do - watching television. (Oy gevalt! A frum girl watching television! What is the world coming to? Yada yada yada. Get over it.) 

And the movie that I wound up watching was about human trafficking. Googling it now, in fact, it turns out that the title of the movie is, "Human Trafficking." 

"It follows the fictional cases of young women around the world, lured or abducted, sometimes right off the street, into a world of unspeakable brutality--which the filmmakers show in almost overwhelming detail at times.[...] 
 And while sometimes almost unbearably harsh, the film serves as a reminder this terrible situation still exists and thrives; and told through the characters, is also a well-paced thriller." (-A.T. Hurley, Amazon.com Review)

I believe in divine providence to the extent that I believe that everything that happens to me happens because G-d wants it to. I believe that there is no such thing as coincidence, and that if I see something, I saw it for a reason. That's why I believe that G-d wanted me to see this movie. 

It's scandalous to say so in the frum community, where movies are considered evil, but I think that this movie needs to be seen. I imagine that it was censored for television, and am glad of that, but it nevertheless showed the pain and horror of human trafficking in a way that just talking about it doesn't. 

That's why I'm posting the trailer for the movie here. But when I say, VIEWER DISCRESSION ADVISED, I really mean it. Don't watch this if you will be bothered by images of, "Young women around the world being lured and abducted" into horrible situations. When I say that this movie needs to be seen, I'm not saying that everyone needs to see it. If you're under 18, or are very frum and haven't been exposed to such things, DO NOT watch this. 

Having said that, I still believe that people need to see this. People need to know that this is going on. In the world of politics in this country, nothing gets done unless the People desire for it to get done: publicizing this issue until we refuse to ignore it anymore is the only way that we can end it. And in the spirit of Pesach, (Passover) the holiday where we celebrate our freedom from captivity, we should remember those who are not so fortunate. 

Monday, March 30, 2009

No Christianity, No Islam, No America

Pesach (Passover) is coming and along with it comes chaos. For Orthodox Jews Passover means more just family and celebrating. It means removing every crumb of bread (rice, pretzels, bagels, popcorn - food in general) from every corner of your house. That means everything from vacuuming under (and inside) every piece of furniture to cleaning out any books that you may have gotten a crumb inside of at any time during the year.

Yes, we Orthodox Jews are crazy. 

I'm taking a moment, now, to remember that this holiday is not just about that craziness. It's about the miracles that G-d did when He freed the "Children of Israel" (we weren't "Jews" then - we were just "Israel's kids") from Egyptian slavery. 

Stop, for a moment, and think about what the world would be like if G-d had not taken us out of Egypt. There would be no Jewish nation. Chances are we would have, after another couple hundred years, have just lost our identity in Egypt and, at best, would have become lower-class Egyptian citizens. Worst case, we would have died out. Pharoah was killing all male "Israelite" babies, and without any "Jewish" boys, there would be no more Jewish families. 

Kaput. Our story would have ended before it began. 

Forget about the Land of Israel. It would never have been started. 

Forget about Christianity. Jesus would never have been born. 

Forget about Islam. Mohammed would never have met those Jews in the desert who inspired him to start his own religion

Would the American Revolution have been possible without its Jewish sponsors

No Christianity. No Islam. No America. Where the heck would the world be without the Jews?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Domestic Terrorism

If you're a Republican, you've got to love Gary Sinese. 

An Emmy-award winner, Golden Globe winner, Oscar nominee, and well-respected actor in Hollywood, Sinese is also an outspoken Republican who contributed both monetarily and professionally (by narrating a biography of a Navy Seal and Medal of Honor recipient at the Republican National Convention) to John McCain's presidential campaign.

Gary's most famous role, today, is the part of Detective Mac Taylor on CSI: NY. Aside from the massive American flag that waves at the end of the opening credits, and the knowledge that Mac's wife was killed on 9/11, (both symbols that the Republican party consider to be incredibly important) there's not really any mention of political leanings. 

And then there was, "Green Piece," a recent episode of CSI: NY which opens with a scene of a house exploding in New York. The scene, with a building exploding and debris flying through the air haphazardly, automatically brought me back to the horrible pictures of the Twin Towers on 9/11. I figured, though, that I was just being too sensitive.

The episode made it clear soon after, however, that its intention was to herald the audience back to the horrors of terrorism that we experienced on 9/11.  

For instance: The image of an FBI agent coming over to NYPD Detective Flack and offering his help in the investigation, and the NYPD detective’s skepticism that he’d actually follow through, was clearly a reference to the “Wall” that existed between security agencies prior to 9/11 that prevented agencies from stopping the 9/11 attacks.

The CSI (Crime Scene Investigator) agents’ first overt reference to terrorism in their investigation surprised me: 

Mac: In 1970 the Weathermen were using a townhouse in the Village as a bomb factory. Bomb went off accidentally, took the whole place down. Two of their members who were inside walked away. Weren't found for ten years.

The mention of the Weathermen, a domestic terrorist group whose leader, Bill Ayers, was a supporter of Barack Obama, was brief, but it caught my attention. And when the rest of the episode turned out to be about domestic eco-terrorists, it was clear, at least to me, that there was a political message in this episode.

The eco-terrorists in this episode, much like the Weathermen, claimed to be using terror as a necessary tool to stop horrors taking place in the United States. During the recent Presidential election, the discussion surrounding Bill Ayers on the part of the Democrats often led to claims that he did what was necessary in the face of a government perpetrating evil (with the Vietnam War). In this episode, the eco-terrorists similarly claimed that they needed to force Americans, through any means possibly, to recognize the harm that they were doing to the environment.

From beginning to end, the episode showed the horrors of terrorism, including the evil of the eco-terrorists’ actions, despite their “good intentions”. This message, alongside the line about the Weathermen, gave a clear message that even if Bill Ayers, and the Weathermen, had good intentions, that can never excuse the horrors that they perpetrated.

It was a brave statement to make in today’s political climate, where Barack Obama is viewed almost as a god whose friends and alliances no one would dare to question/

Good thing it came out of Sinese’s mouth.


Question: Am I no longer allowed to call myself "frum" now that I've mentioned I watched a TV show? 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Don't Give Up

Here's the video that goes along with my last post, "Bad News is Everywhere." Except here, let's focus on the "Don't Give Up" part.

(Fast forward to a minute or so in for the start of the song.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bad News is Everywhere

"Bad news is everywhere, shut my eyes, shut my ears and mouth; cause I know there's a better day coming blowing in from the North and the South." 
-Moshav Band

It's a terrible truth that bad things are everywhere. It was news of one of these bad things that made me question, as I tend to do, the the frum community's practice of marrying of their children when they're extremely young. 

The "news" was of a very young married girl who suffered a miscarriage. A horrible thing to happen under any circumstances, but when I heard of this particular case (not that it was the first that I'd heard) I found myself thinking about how horrible it was for this girl, who really is still a child herself, to have suffered such a tragedy. I asked myself, "Why are parents so eager to throw their children into the 'real world' by marrying them off so young? Yes, the wedding is a great simcha and it's a wonderful thing to celebrate, but what about after the wedding? Once married, these young children cannot be protected from the evils of the world anymore."

With bad news being everywhere, yesterday I heard another piece of "news" that broke my heart. Without going into details, a young girl in the frum community got married and almost immediately found out that her new husband was not who she thought he was. They are now discussing divorce.

This girl is still practically a child yet she is already faced with a failing marriage. She, who was sheltered in the frum community all her life, has been intimately exposed to a person and a situation that she could have been protected from if her parents had just let her have a few more years to grow up. Maybe if she'd had a little more life experience she would have been able to recognize the signs in the man who is now her husband, and the marriage could have been prevented. 

Her wedding was a great and joyous occasion, and as long as it was all lace and chocolate decadence everything was wonderful, but the "honeymoon" ended all too soon, and now the wedding is being seen as a tragedy for this girl who now has to deal with things that no child should have to deal with. 

In some frum communities there is, "a better day coming, blowing in from the North and the South," where getting married a little later (at 22, or 23 - young, huh?) is becoming more acceptable, but there are still so many communities that run to marry off their children in their teens. 

Parents, I'm begging you to look ahead for your child and consider that maybe they need to be eased into real life, instead of thrown into it abruptly with marriage. A beautiful wedding, while wonderful, is not enough to ease that transition. Children need a chance to grow up a little bit before they are married off and are immediately expected to act like adults. Think past the simcha of the engagement and the wedding (no, I'm not talking about grandchildren) and consider whether your child could use a little more time as a child before they have to start having children of their own. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Modern Day Haman

It is tradition on the Jewish holiday of Purim to read the story\history of the holiday from a book called Megillat Esther. The story talks about the Jewish people being in exhile in Persia and about how the vizier to the Persian emperor, a man named Haman, planned to kill the entire Jewish people. 

It's a familiar story to us Jews. Evil man planning to kill us. Nothing new there. 

When we read the story of Purim, every time the 'storyteller' mentions the name, "Haman," it is customary for those listening to "boo" him. It's great fun, especially for the kids. This year, however, while I was listening to the Megillah, everyone booed at something else. It was when the 'storyteller' told about the Persian emperor levying a "mas" on his country. 

I wasn't familiar with the Hebrew word, "mas," so I quickly looked over at the English translation only to find the the word means, "tax."

I think I giggled till the end of the reading after that. Only because laughing out loud would have bothered the other listeners. 

How appropriate is it that Purim comes right in the thick of tax season? Taxes are our modern-day Haman. They come to conquer us. They come to destroy us. 

G-d save us from the evil tax-man. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bringing BY to the streets of BH

Never again. No more alcohol. Ever. Even for (erev*) Purim

Purim is the Jewish holiday on which it is a mitzvah** to get drunk until the point that you don't know the difference between the holidays hero, Mordechai, and it's villain, Haman

That's what I decided to do at the pre-Purim party I went to. It didn't work out so well, for me. I got my first hangover ever and it has inspired me to never, ever, drink like that again. 

The good news is that, as the Jewish sages teach, "When the wine goes in, the secrets come out," and that the secrets that I had to share proved that I definitely am a frum feminist. 

That I'm frum I proved by informing a fella' that I would not be giving him my number because I'm Orthodox and only date Orthodox guys, and by refusing to touch any of the male guests at the party who stuck out their hand for me to shake.  

That I'm a feminist I proved through my snarling answer to a guy who tried to tell me that polygamy is not only halachically*** sanctioned, but is actually good for the Jewish people. 

Here's a little bit of how the conversation went...

Idiot: "So, like, did you girls graduate from, like, a Bais Yaakov kind of school?" 
My Friends and Me: "Like, yeah."  
(For some reason, the idiot doesn't take the hint that that means that he should bugger off and bother some other girls who might be interested in his idiocy...)
Idiot's Friend: "Tell them your theory about polygamy."
Idiot: "According to halacha, not only is it allowed but actually it's required."

What I should have said: "You're an idiot. Goodbye." 

What I actually said: "Um, that's a retarded thing to say." 
Idiot: "Seriously! The gezeira of Rabbeinu Gershom (prohibition of polygamy from a 10th Century rabbi) ended 50 years ago. And there's a great Rabbi in Israel who preaches that it's allowed, and even necessary, now. 
Me: Do you really want to argue with me about this? I'm a graduate of a BY (Bais Yaakov) type school, remember? You will not win this argument."
Idiot: (Idiotically ignores my warning)
Me: If you insist... 

First I pointed out the precept of Jewish law of, "Maaseh avos siman la'banim," which means that something that has become a custom for the Jewish people because the Rabbis collectively decided to follow it, (such as the prohibition against polygamy,) becomes Jewish law by default.This is because, "Torah lo bashamayim hee," which means that when G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people, he gave the authority over it to the Rabbis who, by majority rule, are supposed to make decisions regarding Jewish law. 

Me: "Besides, the prohibition against polygamy was renewed by the rabbis." (Just for idiots like you.)   
Idiot: "But this rabbi in Israel is a great scholar, and he says that considering the situation today, where there are more single Jewish women than single Jewish men, it's actually a kindness to allow a man to have more than one wife because it allows more women to get married and have children." 

Oh boy. That one really set me off. 
I nastilly informed him that his "rabbi" was just one amongst thousands, so his opinion really didn't matter. And that just because he was a Torah scholar that didn't mean that he knew what he was talking about because, "Chochma ba'goyim taamin, Torah ba'goyim al taamin," which is a teaching of the sages that means that even non-Jews have wisdom, but they don't have the wisdom of Torah, so his rabbi could be a brilliant scholar, but that didn't mean that he was scholarly enough to make decisions in Jewish law. 

Me: "You just believe this rabbi because you're pro-polygamy. It's a man's mitzvah to get married, not a woman's, and I guarantee that there isn't a single Jewish female out there who so bemoans her fate of being single that she'll willingly marry a man who already has a wife. " 
Idiot: "Actually, there are women in Israel who are married to men who have multiple wives - "
Me: "Those women are obviously ill. Polygamy is sexist and abusive and no woman with any self-respect or any sense of self-esteem would degrade herself by allowing another woman into her marriage." 

I finished off by advising him to never mention his pro-polygamy opinions again if he ever wanted to impress a girl, refused his invitation to go and get something to eat with him, and walked away without saying goodbye. 

You've learned a very important lesson today, chauvinists. Don't mess with a frum feminist. She's highly educated, highly intelligent, and won't take any crap (pardon my French) from you. So don't bother. You'll only end up looking like an idiot.

*erev - in this context, the word means that it's in the time leading up to Purim.
**mitzvah - commandment from G-d, also translated sometimes as, "a good deed".
***halachically - according to halacha, Jewish law

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Man Works Harder

Tonight my five year old niece explained to me that the reason why girls change their name to their husband's when they get married is because "the man works harder."

"Where'd you hear that from?" I asked her, trying not to frown. "Did someone tell you that or did you figure that out by yourself?" 

She just shrugged and moved on to something more interesting, leaving me wondering where she got that idea from. Did someone in her class tell her that, or did she figure it out from her (limited) life experience?

Why do we women take our husband's names, anyways? I'm not questioning it, nor am I saying that I want to keep my own last name when I get married, but I'm suddenly curious about where the custom came from. 

Does anyone know?

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Israeli dancing to rap music by Y-Love

Club dancing in flip-flops. 

A Breslov chassid dancing with modern Orthodox and non-religious guys. 

It's the Jewlicious Festival, and it's nothing if not fascinating to watch. 

For a "Jewish Woodstock," as LA Blueprint website called it, it was a lot smaller than I expected. The crowd in front of the stage was maybe 10 or 15 rows of people thick, with the rest of the room consisting of people just meandering about, dancing, or just watching. 

Some group (or maybe it was just one performer - I couldn't tell) named "Kosher Dillz" was rapping away on stage and I wasn't especially impressed with the cries of, "Oy vey all day!"

Dov Rosenblatt, of the band Blue Fringe, came up, and things started to get much better. Dov has a nice voice, plays guitar really well, and gave a very good performance. When the Moshav Band came on and sang a song with him, you could feel the excitement in the room growing. 

Then Moshav came on. The room was packed full and when Moshav started playing the crowd started moving together for the first time in the evening. Their music and charisma made it impossible not to be drawn in. The audience was so involved in the performance that they were practically breathing together. Without a doubt, they were the highlight of the evening. 

It seemed to go downhill from there. After Moshav left the stage, the room emptied out. The next performer, a German-Jewish pop singer, had a depressingly small audience, and when I wandered outside I found out it was because most of the crowd went to join a drum circle. 

My first drum circle. I was so NOT excited. But with the choice between a Jewish-German Britney Spears, dancing provacatively with a guy wearing a kippah who she called on stage, and a drum circle, I decided to just sit on the side and watch. 

The drummer wearing the, "60 Years of Getting Chai" did freak me out, but it was when the shofar came out that I knew it was time to leave. 

A dreadlocked-hippy playing a shofar in a drum circle fueled by the fumes of weed wafting through the air... That was just too much for me. Call me intollerant but it was so far out of my realm of normal that I didn't know what to do with myself. 

In spite of the scary parts, I had a pretty good time and I'm glad that I went, if only to see all different kinds of Jews coming together to dance and sing. 

Next time, though, can we do it without the drugs and alcohol, please?

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Great Busing Experiment

I did an experiment today: I took the bus to work.

My sister's car died really dead a few weeks ago, so I've been sharing mine with her. Because she drives a lot more than I do, I usually don't have a car during the day. I was planning on catching a ride to work today but my ride left without me. I tried to get a ride with someone else, but that person wasn't going in to work until late, so that didn't work out either.

In despair, (oy!), I layed down on the couch and stared at the ceiling as I tried to figure out how I could get to work.

Could I walk?

Not in
these boots. And not with my laptop.

Could I get someone to drive me as a favor?

I couldn't think of anyone who'd be available at that time of the day.

As I lay there wondering, "How on earth do people get around without cars?" it suddenly came to me:

The Bus!

It only occurred to me because at the
wedding I mentioned in my last post, a friend of mine who used to lived in New York mentioned taking the bus when she moved to this city.

No one takes the bus around here. Well, obviously some people do, but the majority of my city's population have cars. The bus is generally seen as a mode of transportation for people who have no other choice. (In other words, they're too poor.) More than anything, I think it's a cultural thing. In New York, everyone takes public transportation. Out here, it's embarrassing to take it.

If celebrities want to help the country, like they say they do in their
"Pledge to Obama" video, what they really should do is promote public transportation in their own city. Buying hybrids doesn't help the environment nearly as much as popular public transportation could.

Note: The photograph above is of the original busing experiment. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Feeling Old

I've talked a few times before - here and here - about going to weddings as a single young woman in the frum community and about the looks and comments you get because you're still single at the devastatingly old age of 23 (now 24.) 

I went to another one of these weddings last night. It was a huge, gorgeous wedding with hundreds of people and plenty of older women to whisper while staring at you, so I  started out feeling just as disgruntled as I usually do at these events. Over the evening, however, I noticed that many of the young married women who I went to school with are looking decidedly older than their ages. There were a number of these women who I didn't even recognize at first because they look so altered. 

It's no wonder the frum women think 24 is old: when you get married at 18 and have your first kid at 19, (and just keep on having them,) by the time you're 24 you really feel old. And look it too, unfortunately. 

On the brighter side, some of my married high school friends looked great. After I commented that the high school students at the wedding (the bride is their teacher) looked really small, one of these friends said to me, "Yeah, Frum-Fem, and they think that I'm an old lady! The way that they look at me just because I've got this wig on my head..." 

Imagine that. There I was, feeling bothered at the looks I was getting for not wearing a wig, and my friend bothered because she was getting looks for wearing a wig.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Money money money money

Holy moley! A $790B stimulus bill! 

I don't even know what to say. I'll borrow a few words from some friends of mine:

Pintel: "Criminey!"

Ragetti: "Oddsbodkins!"


Echoing in the background:

Obama Administration: "We pillage, we plunder and don't give a hoot..."

Congress: "We extort, we pilfer, we filch and we sack..."

All together... 

You all know the words!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Manly Masculine Women

My brother called me, "manly," a month or so ago. After gasping, "I can't believe you just called me that!" I told him that he had his vocabulary wrong and suggested that maybe the word he was looking for was, "masculine." 

Calling me, "manly," makes me sound like I'm tall, broad, and really need to wax my eyebrows.

"Masculine" doesn't sound like much of a more flattering description, but being masculine is about characteristics, rather than physical attributes. To say that I have, "qualities traditionally ascribed to men, [such] as strength and boldness," (Dictionary.com) isn't insulting at all. 

In fact, it's a compliment. I have no intention of behaving in the manner traditionally ascribed to women, (screeching, fainting, being-seen-and-not-heard) so I might as well try those traditionally ascribed to men. I'll be strong and I'll be bold. 

I'll even kill the bugs, occasionally. 

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Let's "Pledge" Ourselves to Obama Video

Here's the "Pledge" video I wrote about in my last post, called by some, the "Wealthy Celebrities Pledge Wealth-Distribution-Socialism" video.

I can't believe I'm posting an Obama video on my blog... But then, I confess that I do think that one good thing has come from this "Obamaism" AKA "Obamianity," AKA, "Obamantology," and that is that there are significant numbers of Americans who now know that there's an electoral process in this country. It's a big difference from the, "Coming of Age in Mississippi," America that Anne Moody wrote about, where Blacks in America were either unaware that they were allowed to vote in elections or too scared to do so. 

See? I'm trying to look at the positive side of the picture. Like I'm looking for that check in the mail that Obama promised to send me...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Slavery Today

A bunch of celebrities got together recently to tell Obama that he's not alone. They wanted to reassure him after he got, "the loneliest job in the world." Poor guy. 

They all pledged to take steps to help Obama in his lonely job. Some of the pledges were pretty good. I especially liked the one where some celebrity, who I didn't recognize, pledged,  "to consider myself an American, not an African-American." What a great goal for a nation that really needs to let itself get past its history of slavery. Come on - do we really need affirmative action when a black man just managed to get the most powerful job in the country? 

It was slavery, more than any other issue, that was emphasized in this video. I quote:

Some lady with an accent and a smoker's voice: "I pledge"
Some woman in a white jacket: "To work to make good the 200 year old promise to end slavery"
Ashton Kutcher: "To the abolition of 21st century slavery"
Demi Moore: "To free one million people from slavery in the next five years" 

Call me ignorant but, well, I'm really not - and still I'm not sure what they're referring to. Because I'm not completely ignorant, I'm going to venture a guess that this "slavery" that they're talking about is taking place in Sudan or Rwanda, (Uganda? Western Sahara? Kenya?) or something, an inference I make from,

1. A video I came across a year or so ago that told the story of children in Africa kidnapped and forced to fight for their captor's army, (which kind of sounds like the stories of Jews in Russia being kidnapped and forced to join the Czar's army,) and,
2. From the fact that modern-day slavery stemmed from Africa when warring African tribes sold their prisoners-of-war to European slave traders. 

If someone knows what the real story is, please do tell, but in the meantime I really have to wonder how these celebrities expect their audience to know what they're talking about when most Americans (and I don't say this in a boastful manner - it's just a fact,) are not nearly as aware of world issues as I am, and even I'm not sure what they're talking about. 

Freeing slaves -- that I know a lot about. In the daily prayers that Jews (are supposed to) say every day we are reminded about the fact that G-d freed us from slavery in Egypt a while back. As I was saying them today I was thinking about the fact that, like the Passover prayer says, if G-d had not brought our ancestors out of Egypt, we - and our children, and our grandchildren - would still be slaves to some guy with the title, "Pharaoh," in Egypt. Pretty spooky. 

From my knowledge of slaves being freed, it's gonna take a heck of a lot more than just a mention in a celebrity video to free these 21st century slaves. Try 12 plagues. 

Oh wait, no - that won't work. Destroying enemy land (Locust) and property (Pestilence, Hail), torturing the enemy (No water! Bugs everywhere! Boils! Turning out the lights!), and killing the enemy (Death of the Firstborn) would all be deemed unusable as tactics for freeing a suffering people. 

Okay, so we don't free them the way G-d did - we free them the way Lincoln did. Nope - that won't work either. It took a war with more American casualties than any other war fought by America to free those slaves. Besides, Lincoln was a Republican and we can't do anything the way that he did it. 

How about in the way that we freed Afghanis from the Taliban's cruel reign and Iraqis from Saddam Hussein's oppression? 


How, exactly, are these celebrities expecting us to end slavery, then?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Armed & Feminine

A few months ago I wanted to show off a new hat to a friend of mine, an American soldier (Hooah!) recently returned from Iraq. Here's the hat:

Yes, I'm an NRA member.

Cue: Shadchanim run away screaming

My friend responded, "That's funny. I thought that religious women don't have the right to bare arms."

For a second I stared at her, mentally running through all the Jewish laws that I could think of which might prohibit women from using guns... Until I realized she was talking about the Jewish laws of modesty, (which I talk about here.)

Boy, was I relieved.

In the latest issue of "America's 1st Freedom" magazine (published by the NRA), there's an article that cites the growing numbers of women interested in guns. "Of our 54% growth rate in 2007, 66% of that represented people new to shooting. And 40% of the 54% were women," says a shooting range owner in the article.

Apparently women want to be able to defend themselves. I know that's why I'm an NRA member.

I can admit that here on this anonymous blog, where only a VERY few of my viewers know who I really am. I wasn't completely kidding when I cued the shadchanim running away screaming. It's dangerous to be a feminist who likes guns in frum society. I told my mom today, after reading the article about women and guns, that we could eliminate (from the shiddichim business, not literally,) great numbers of guys if we told shadchanim that I'm a member of the NRA.

She was not amused.

I have to keep my gun enthusiasm quiet if I want to be accepted in frum society. So if you're out there reading this and you know who I am, keep quiet about it, will ya?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Dancing Idealist

I used to be an idealist.

A blog under the name Hasidic-Feminist (you can imagine that I was excited to find that one) recently wrote about how her Hasidic community marries off their children when they're young and idealistic in order to keep them, "entrenched within the community, tied down by obligations and red tape."

I used to be one of those idealistic kids who, if I'd been "married off" when I was still in that idealistic phase, could have ended up as one of those women who I write about in my blog -- the young married girls without dreams or ambitions beyond their own little families.

As the idealist I used to be, I would have been happy to enter into that kind of life. I would have done the whole dance of the young Orthodox girl who gets engaged, giggles over her fiance with her friends, happily makes wedding and new-home plans, goes on to have her own children and lives to keep her husband and children happy.

Would I have remained happy, though? 

Ay, there's the rub.
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil 
Must give us pause
(Hamlet Act III, Scene I)